- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - As Jackson’s century-old water lines continue to break apart, the rise in boil water notices and water line leaks continues to escalate.

This year alone there have been ninety-three precautionary boil water notices and at least 75 water line leaks. More are expected.

Councilman Charles Tillman said the aging water pipes will continue to break apart because they have been there so long.

The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/1D52sVG) reports these water system failures not only affect thousands of customers, but also negatively impact public health and safety. The boil water notices, which can last for two days or longer, advise residents that water at risk of being contaminated should not be swallowed or allowed in the eyes or mouth.

“The boil water notices are annoying, but I am more concerned as a resident of Jackson that the notices are a symptom of an infrastructure problem that has been ignored far too long by our city’s leadership,” said Jonathan Compretta, whose Belhaven neighborhood recently had a boil water notice after a water main leak.

Mayor Tony Yarber said he believes the city has an infrastructure emergency and has issued an infrastructure emergency declaration.

If approved, the infrastructure emergency declaration will allow the city to seek federal and state funds without going through the normal bidding process. However, some City Council members say the emergency plan presented to them by Yarber lacks specific details explaining why the water issue is an emergency.

“I don’t see what was presented as a plan,” Councilman Melvin Priester, Jr. said.

Yarber said his emergency declaration also is a work in progress.

But as the debate looms on, residents like Compretta just want to see the issue resolved.

“This isn’t a problem that is going to be solved by just patching lines,” Compretta said. “It is going to take a serious investment of resources, and we need leaders who are willing to make difficult decisions to fix the problem.”

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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